South African power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd could operate coal-fired power plants for years longer than originally planned to allow for the construction of more renewable energy as the country shifts to a greener energy mix.
Coal is used to generate more than 80% of electricity in Africa’s most industrialized economy, but switching to cleaner energy sources to reach net zero emissions by 2050 could mean that the service the country’s electric utility continues to burn the dirtiest fossil fuel.
Its factory in Camden, Mpumalanga province, which is part of a fleet of aging stations, could close in 2027 instead of 2025, Mandy Rambharos, head of Eskom’s Just Energy Transition department, said in a presentation online. line. Keeping the plant open longer would allow for the development of more renewable energy and is “not a life extension”, she said.
South Africa will need to build up to 7,000 megawatts of renewable capacity a year and reaching net zero by 2050 will cost around 6 trillion rand ($350 billion), according to a report by the National Business Initiative , Business Unity South Africa , and the Boston Consulting Group.
By 2030, around 480 billion rand of investment will be needed in the electricity sector alone, according to the report presented on Thursday. While 30 gigawatts of grid connection are available for renewables, the same amount will need to be built over the next eight years to reach net zero.